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Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by coco44, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    Dear Colleagues,
    Some advice would be gratefully received because I really dont know what to do next. I feel like giving up. Nothing I do is right and although I am trying to be positive I just can't see how to fix something that I dont know is wrong.

    I am a very young deputy, very new in my job, and at the school. I have been given reduced responsibilties for this term as the head wants me to build relationships with people. Apparently I havent done this very well, which I am pretty shocked by because I thought I was doing ok, I havent found every day easy as everything has been new, and I have felt lonely but I actually thought things were going ok this week. I must be stupid tho cause apparently they are not and feedback is people dont see me as the deputy.

    I honestly have no idea how people would see me as the deputy yet. I have been there less than a term, and the usual deputy responsibilities have been given to others in SMT this term, so what could I have done that would have made me to be viewed this way? I thrive on building natural good relationships and I feel very uncomfortable having been give a "deadline" to make friends. People apparently have said they never see me, but my head told me to spend my time in the staffroom and thats what I have been doing at breaks and lunches. I have been accused of not being present in assemblies but I am always there unless on a course or on the phone to a parent. I have been told to go round in the morning and chat to staff, but I dont want to get in the way when they are busily preparing for the day ahead. Where I can make an impact, I have done, such as deep cleaning up the kitchen and keeping it nice for staff, and organising events for next term.Or helping teachers when they come to me with ideas, concerns or behaviour issues. I thought all these meetings went well.

    More feedback is that I am too sharp and direct and have been told to do things "lighter, softer and smilier". I honestly honestly HAVENT been like this. I know what the issue is, my leadership style is exactly what I have been exposed to in 2 other schools I have worked in. Its not authorative, just more decsisve and my new staff are used to being consulted on everything, being involved in most decision, not doing anything they dont want to etc, so if I dont approach everything in this way then apparently I am being sharp and direct. I am trying to unlearn behaviour whilst learning new behaviour, and the ironic thing is that my approach was previously seen as a strength, so I feel my confidence has been pretty knocked by this.
    As far as I can tell SMT has always been promoted from exisiting staff, not from outside so it would be unfair of my head to compare the speed of my integration into such a close knit staff with other previous SMT members. With no frame of reference how can the head possibly comment that by the end of term 1 all staff should see me as their deputy? I know as a class teacher it certainly took me more than a term to accept my new deputy, and thats cause he never spoke to me. I have tried to speak to EVERYONE. I am so frustrated but my head is frustrated and disappointed with me! I have never done this job before for gods sake!
    I dont like the fact that my head appears to be allowing people to come and complain. well thats what it sounds like anyway. I feel that if I had been given more to do from the beginning I could have thrown myself into the job and built natural relationships along the way...thats how I work best and how I thrive. Instead I find myself bumbling along trying to make forced conversation in the hope that someone will go and say something nice about me. and I am really nice and really supportive I promise! I have been told to go and behave in a way that will force 6 members of staff by the end of term to go and say something nice about me to the head. What kind of a target is that?
    I just want jobs to do, and prove my worth that way. The head's way of measuring my performance by what people about the relationships I have built is unacceptable to me.I feel like I am being spied on. The head told me to go and use my "beautiful smile" to win people over and now I feel like I have to go around looking like a clown. I have pointed out that the AHT is also very direct but the head said that she can get away with it. I just dont understand.
    There were other points in the conversation I thought were fair enough and I told the head that. I also reacted positively (albeit a few tears) to the feedback and stated that the job was very important to me and that I could be an excellent deputy and that I was sorry if I let them down but I would try harder and learn from this. However I am seriously distraught about it and very depressed.
    I should also add that this meeting was a bolt from the blue, I wasnt prepared for the topic of discussion it caught me completely unawares...on Friday after school...with my head knowing my partner was away so I was alone at home...knowing I would dwell over it allll weekend....
    I thought that was a bit unfair. Anyway would appreciate any advice as I feel very close to throwing the towel in... Thanks.

  2. Firstly contact your union, log this and get some advice, you don't need to take it any further if you don't want to but I would make the call.
    Secondly, you were hired for the person you are and you should not need to change, be confident. However, you will want to make relationships, so use the time to do that, are you class based? Could you offer to do some team teaching, this could help you develop your relationship and can be very useful in learning about the school, the staff, the pupils, on so many levels.
    I hope you don't give up, it does sound as if you have been treated clumsily at best, and in an unprofessional manner .
    Good Luck, I hope you sort this out.
  3. Hi ya,
    Really feel for you in this situation. I'm taking up a DHT post in Sept and your situation sounds like my worst nightmare. I don't think you should throw in the towel yet, it's a hurdle and you have to jump over it. I guess people handle criticism differently and you appear to have taken it rather badly. You are new in post after all so, there is time to make that difference that you want to. The fact that you say you are young interests me, purely because there seems to be a trend for the younger teacher, highly organised and effiecient and from what I've seen in different schools are good teachers but they lack one thing...people skills and I've seen it really get peoples backs up and make staff members dislike them and not support them because of it.
    Do you teach at all? Teachers like to see that the Deputy can walk the walk as well as talk the talk so to speak, I certainly did and that made me respect the Deputy more. At the end of the day YOU are the Deputy Head and it would be great if your Head could support you to develop the skills you need to be an effective communicator. If I was in your position I certainly wouldn't give up but make the effort to get people on side. Just visiting my school I can see the different personalities and FEEL people looking at me in a strange way. They don't know how to take me, it's really odd and I know that it's because in their mind they are saying "its the Deputy" "wonder what they will be like".
    Maybe some Heads will come in and guide you but personally as Deputy Head I expect to be criticised and I'm prepared to handle it and move on. Now I see why alot of Heads in this forum say don't rush into Deputy Headship, particularly when you are relatively inexperienced as some of the challenges will be hard but thats a part of the role which I expect to be the hardest in the school.

    I don't know if I've been any help really. Just keep going, be positive, smile and work on what the Head says. Be approachable. Perhaps do what one Deputy did in a school I was at and volunteer to get into every class to release the teacher and get to know the kids? Just an idea.
    Feel free to instant message me and Good Luck!

  4. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    Hey I just wrote a response but it disappeared so I guess I will write another one! I really really appreciate you taking the time to respond. You mentioned some useful things for me to think about. I am young for a deputy but not super efficient, I was AST before I took up the role but it is a completely different job! I thought I did have good people skills but I guess they need refining after the feedback I got!

    Yup I do teach PPA cover 3 days a week ,but I like the idea of releasing teachers and doing some team teaching. They are quite "precious" about their classes tho so not sure how it will go down but I can try!

    Thanks so much, I am feeling more positive now after reading your advice :)
  5. You might just look at this another way...The Head, SMT and other staff need to take on board changing their ideas and relationships. You are new to being Deputy, you are new to the school, it will ruffle feathers and make some feel insecure. The Head has to be a bit 'wiser' and steer you all through this, including themself not just 'being disappointed', it is about 'mentoring and coaching' you as well. Plus the other staff need to realise that relationships in the school will change and are changing, probably for the best. Stick it out, it will get better I hope and think. I feel 'disppointed' with the Head in that they seem to be scape-goating you in a tricky transition...They should be a bit more even-handed and patient...After-all the cliche is you are one bus away from being the 'acting' Head!
    After the Summer Hols it might hopefully all feel more 'normal' to everyone and I think will be smoother. Not give in, it isn't down to just you having to 'learn' and 'adapt' or 'be nice'...who is looking after you? I always had two very wise support staff making me tea and giving me cake etc I never asked...they just 'knew'.
  6. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    I would agree with the other postr who said don't give up, but rather just carry on as normal - and look to 'start again' next term. In addition I would speak seriously to your HT re: taking over a significant role (or 2) so that the staff can see you being a DHT - excuse me but 'deep cleaning' the staff kitchen (however useful) isn't the job of the DHT!
    As for the complaints - well some you can ignore (e.g. about not being in Assembly - if you were there then the HT must realsie the complaints are ****)- so ginore. Any others - challenge the HT - ask who made the complaint (prob won't tell you, but it will show you are not taking it lying down!) Staff need to adapt to you as much as you to them - more, actually.Whatever happens 'don't let the b*ggers grind you down'!
  7. Poor you, this sounds grim beyond belief.

    I have just taken on as assistant headship and I'm pretty young too, and also new to the school who are, on the whole, a very established staff who have mainly been in the school for years and years.

    I have, in the past, been accused of being 'abrupt' in my manner and have been paranoid to the point of distraction about how people are perceiving me and how I handle them. In my current role I've had to do a lot of shaking things up and I'm certain that there are pockets of staff who love nothing more than huddling in corners and bitching off about me. This used to bother me more than it does now as I understand that having a moan is part of teaching (sadly) and that it's usually the things I am asking them to do that they have a gripe with rather than me personally.

    Keep your focus on what is best for the kids coco44. If you are certain that you are building relationships that will help you move this school forward then you are doing the best for the children in that school.

    I appreciate that doing things like cleaning the kitchen is a much needed thing to do, and I know I'd appreciate it - however I wonder if showing your face in classrooms might be more appreciated while they're getting to know you. How about popping into people's rooms in the morning with resources? You might have found a poster from Junior Education / TES and take it to someone who you know is doing about the Victorians? That way you are popping in to see people in the morning but you're not taking up tonnes of their time. It would show an interest in their classes and give you the opportunity to make positive comments about wall displays / work on walls etc.

    How about asking each teacher who has made good progress this term? You could pop into their class at an arranged time to make a fuss of this child - give out a special sticker or something? Teachers like to feel you're interested in their classes as well as them. How about little cards/post-its saying stuff like 'walked past whilst you were doing music - it sounded lovely!' etc.

    I KNOW you are being a bit picked on here, and I do feel very sorry for you as its a sucky situatuon. I'm suggesting these things not because I think you aren't doing enough just because I know I like to have practical things to do when I'm feeling overwhelmed, which is how you sound.

    Do let us know how you get on. How horrible having a 'relationship-building-deadline'....sounds like the head might need the same!
  8. no idea why this didn't paragraph - I did put them in - honest!
  9. Hello,
    I have been a DHT since Jan and I agree with lots of the above advice. It is a very lonely job and at times I wonder if I have done the right thing, moving from a school where I had excellent friendships and relationships with all staff, where I felt comfortable and secure. I often walk into a room now where teachers are sat having a chat and they stop talking and look at me expectantly like I have a messgae to deliver. It can be awkward and I generally stay for a min or two and move on. As I said it can be lonely, these people aren't your friends and never will be in the same way it was at your other school. You status has changed and one day you may be laughing with them, the next discussing why they haven't finished their FS profiles!!
    I am really enjoying the job and love the challenge and that is what I remind myself of when I feel blue momentarily!!
    Good luck and stick at it [​IMG]
  10. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    Hi guys

    I felt so so down and lonely on Saturday when I wrote that post and I have been overwhelmed by complete strangers taking time out to write me such useful ideas, I am going to try out as many as I can to try and crack them! I did have a better day today and I did discuss things with my head so am feeling more positive but I just cant believe you guys have been sooooo helpful. Thanks so much :)
  11. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    Hey everyone

    Just when I thought it was getting better it happened again! He had me in his office AGAIN today (when he knows I had a car accident today) and said to me that many have been to him in great sadness and sorrow to report that they find me patronising or critical, and still dont see me as the deputy head. he Refused to give me any specific feedback at all, refused to set me any specific targets or areas to work on. He has not directed any of the "criticisers" to me so I can address their concerns myself, and I honestly honestly dont know whats going on! Everything was going on fine, just doing my job, getting on good with people etc and he calls me in says all this and says I have not built positive relationships with anyone, that noone wants to work with me etcetc. I was flabbergasted, I honestly didnt see this coming at all. He said this was very serious stuff and was critical to the school moving forward and that the school could not move forward until I had fixed it, but wouldnt tell me what I needed to fix. he then went silent and let the silence go on for 7 minutes! He is making me go in there to continue discussing it at 1:15 tomo, I told him I dont want to but he doesnt care, I think I will be sick anyway as have the worst migraine right now.
    He basically has created a culture where anyone can go and have a moan to him whenever they want and I never get to respond or tell my side of the story as he never tells me what was said. therefore its pointless having the conversations in the first place. I was sosososo distressed tonight, then my boyfriend said it was ridiculous, and asked me if there was anything at the mo that I felt was preventing me from doing my job as DHT effectively. I listed a couple of things but he pointed out to me that staff relationships was not something I had highlighted, therefore if it wasnt stopping me from doing my job it was nor the critical serious issue my head was making it out to be. He said that noone can be sacked for being patronising or critical and I havent been like that anyway. I have even called past colleagues to ask them if I could be like this, I knew they'd be honest but they all said that they couldnt even imagine me being like that.

    I dont know how to get out of this. its truly hellish. I want to leave but unsure if I should as I only started at Easter.
    plsplspls help!
  12. Might I make a suggestion?

    1- At ALL meetings you have with HT, take a pad and pen and take down EVERYTHING he says. Repeat it so he sees you have written it down, time and date it as well. Write down the questions you ask about specific targets. But down everything.

    2- Ask for a course on interpersonal relationships and how to deal with staff as part of your CPD. There are out there.
    3- Have you considered having frank discussions with the staff? You have to be open and not defensive, listen to what they have to say and stay even tempered. Document these as well.
    4- Contact your union.
    I think that there are a few who are whispering in the HTs ear and they have him hoodwinked. You need to be proactive and create a heavy evidence base.

    By the way, how is the school not moving forward? How does the HT interact with the staff?
    I wouldn't give up on being a DHT, but this may not be the school for you or the HT for you. Learn from it and move on.

  13. Excellent advice from std.
    coco - if what you say is true you are in a very difficult position. Sadly, there are are some very odd, embittered and vindictive individuals in teaching and you seem to be the victim of the machinations of one or more of these people.
    Don't discount the possibility that the head is creating non-existent problems for some reason (jealousy, mental imbalance, etc??). The head may feel threatened by you and is desperately trying to discredit and undermine you. This may sound unlikely but it may be the case.
    Did this head appoint you? If so, what did he think of your interpersonal skills at interview/selection? Are governors involved/informed of the situation?
    Contact your union and get some support.
    I hope you resolve the issue. Please keep us informed of developments. I suspect, however, that moving school will be the only way out of this situation.

  14. So sorry to hear you are still struggling with the same issues. I would say you are doing the right things. I am wondering if this Head has appointed you as someone to move the school forward, that means shaking things up sometimes and yes change can be difficult for some staff. Now that you are doing it and staff are not entirely comfortable with it, and bleating to the Head, he is being somewhat two faced. I may be reading too much into it but could this senario explain the situation.
    I also agree above advice, take notes and ask the Head to sign them as a correct record of your conversations. Good Luck I hope things get better for you.
  15. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Interesting posts. At the end of the day, you will only succeed by being true to yourself. You cannot change how you do things, not really, and you will know in your heart if you are as has been described.
    Being in a position of authority is a confidence thing, and the staff will only begin to see you as a deputy once you begin to see yourself as a deputy and have the demeanour of that position. It is not your job to clean the kitchen, or do a thousand and one basic jobs. There has to be an important part of school life that is your remit, and your remit only. Until you gain complete control of this aspect of school life you will always remain in that position of uncertainty.
    Coming into a school as a new member of staff in a senior position is always going to create enemies, and trust me you will have some. It is nothing to do with what you have done, merely because someone on the staff will feel you have taken their position. As you said, most promotions to this level were internal, so you are the exception to the rule. Some will be wondering what made you so special, and perhaps feel the need to take you down a peg or two.
    So what can you do? Ultimately the staff do not have to like you, they just have to do what you want. Some staff will hate you, some will think you are wonderful and the rest will be indifferent. The longer you stay in the school, the more people will become aware of you as an administrator and, provided you do an effective job, will come to accept your decisions. Personally I would not go out of my way to be friendly to people. It is not in my nature and I don't care that much. That is not the same as being antagonistic towards them. Maintain a professional attitude, listen to what people have to say while being fair and impartial and the rest will follow.
    Oh and one final thing. Stand up to your head. You are a deputy, not an NQT. If he has problems then tell him to present the evidence or else shut up. He is not going to fire you ( makes his judgement look bad ) so stop worrying.
  16. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    Hey everyone
    Thanks for your posts, there is some excellent advice in all of them which I intend to follow, although today I have also been inquiring abour resuming my role as an AST in my old authority. Our meeting on Friday didnt go too brilliantly. I wasnt sure what the focus of the meeting was as he just said, we would continue the meeting the next day. When I turned up he asked me to respond to what he had said the day before and I said I didnt know that, that was what the meeting was for so I had not yet framed the response in my mind, my thoughts were still all over the plave. he said
    "I am disappointed that someone in a senior leadership role had not anticipated such a request in a planned meeting"
    Am I supposed to be a mind reader? He then went on to tell me that 2 members of staff and gone to him and said they didnt want me to review their PM. No valid reason given. Its all so vindictive. I am really desperately trying to pull myself out of sliding into depression, and act on the advice that you guys have given, but I am finding it really hard. I just want to give up. Its gonna take every ounce of strength I have to go in tomorrow...
  17. Obviously this is not normal by any stretch of the imagination, I would just calmly / professionally keep doing your job and keep notes of what is happening as advised.
    I think your Head is struggling here to see the wider picture or has a few issues of their own, so is passing that stress onto you. As I said earlier they have to manage and lead the change you are all in. They are falling for one of the simplest and easiest mistakes of being manipulated and playing the mummy / daddy game. You do or say something that someone else feels is 'unfair' or don't like or 'not how we do it'; they cry and moan to or 'tip-off' the Head, probably in pairs so it isn't personal honest! The Head leaps in with 'authority' to make it all right ie by telling you off (the rest of the staff will sadly know) and to back up the staff they 'trust'. Very, very weak leadership and personal skills, but an easy mistake to make.
    Just be thick skinned and if necessary have the guts to frankly discuss with Head a back me or I resign option! This might be sobbering as after-all they appointed you, their choice and therefore big reflection on them if your appointment goes wrong!!!
  18. coco44

    coco44 New commenter

    thanks momid,

    What u say is sosososo true. He needs to be shoeing he has confidence in me and my decisions. That is definetly NOT the message he is putting out there. He cant see that people are going there vindictively. He says its not vindictive and that its with great despair and sadness they are going there, but then they say they are "tearing their hair out with me". That phrase sounds pretty vindictive to me. I honestly feel that unless I am invisible and say nothing, the moaning will continue. I was saying to my boyfriend, that I feel like, and this is an analogy, I wake up in the morning and everyone says to me "Oh my gosh you created havoc last night etcetcetc" and I think "No I was in by myself watching eastenders then I went to bed",

    Now that might be a bit of a rubbish analogy but the point is, I feel like I wasnt there when all of the stuff they're complaining about, happened. I feel like they are talking about someone else's behaviour, and then the punchline is, its mine. My entire career has been about supporting others, motivating others, and inspiring them, that was a key feature of the AST role.
    Seriously, whenever anybody expresses a concern about anything, professional or personal, I instantly go out of my way to provide advice, resources, assistance of whatever I can to help them. I have always been like that, and the feedback I always got was that my help was a godsend. Now if I even suggest helping, I am patronising or criticising. And I am lost because I dont know how to change, but perhaps even more crucially, I dont want to change as I believe my approach is right for me. I have always been a strong leader, my vision clearly is and always has been that its about the KIDS and I put them in the forefront of EVERY decision I make, and I will never apologise for that. I too am not bothered about "making friends" but am not formal in my nature so my interactions are generally jolly, and informal, only making use of the more serious tone/response when a situation requires it. I was, and always have been happy that I had a style that worked. Now it doesnt. And I havent a clue why.

    Am I being bullied here? or set up? I am starting to think this may describe what I am experiencing...
  19. <font size="2">Hi coco, </font><font size="2"> It sounds as though you are in a very difficult situation and I really feel for you. It's hard to give advice without knowing you or the school but there are certainly several aspects of your situation which I think need to be dealt with without delay...</font><font size="2">It seems a little as though (unsurprisingly) you have found yourself in a position where you feel as though you are being victimised: this is not helped by the fact that you are being fed information about others' responses to you through the head without knowing exactly what the problems are, how widespread they are, if they are all true, who is making them etc....this is not conducive to confidence building. Has anyone actually made an official complaint about you?? If so, you have the right to know what that is and then you should have time to think before responding to it. This could be a case of a couple of old friends of the boss bending his ear and stirring trouble..... "despair", "sadness" and tearing out of hair are emotive words and phrases which are unable to be validated, yet will unsurprisingly elicit a similarly strong emotive response from yourself.....I know this might sound almost impossible, but can you recognise that your head is not dealing with change management in a professional manner and that this has absolutely nothing to do with you?? The most perfect DH might have found themselves in the same position at this school.....</font><font size="2">I am intrigued about the nature of your appointment - did someone internal apply for the post and not get it? Or did someone want to apply but was perhaps told on the side that a new face was required? Why did the old DH leave?</font><font size="2">You need a clear remit - making friends or becoming popular is not it. I'm interested in the team teaching etc - may I suggest you embark on a series of one to one interviews with members of teaching staff (starting with Assistant Heads, then moving on down the chain) purpose is up to you but it seems to me that your strength is Teaching and Learning so spend some time researching the school data and then address specific needs of depts. Have a clear purpose for each meeting, and remember to listen. You may find that you can build up your rapport (and your confidence) one person at a time &ndash; but you will be doing this at the same time as working to improve the school...</font><font size="2">Do you have anyone at your old school (e.g. the Head) that you could bounce things off? </font><font size="2">May I also suggest that you also formally contact your union (not for any action at this point, but so that you can get some tailored professional advice and record your difficulties). There&rsquo;s some phrase like &ldquo;if you feel you&rsquo;re being bullied you probably are&rdquo; : maybe you are not being bullied and you are just experiencing teething problems in your new school &ndash; I really do hope this is the case but you need to make sure that you cover your own back as you don&rsquo;t want to be accused of something at a later stage that you can&rsquo;t prove e.g. not being appropriately prepared for a meeting. Go with the advice of several others and write everything down (with dates).</font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">And finally (for now anyway) remember that you were appointed to this position: several people including (I assume) Governors decided that you were the best person for the job. You obviously also received excellent references from your old employer. You are knowledgeable and skilled &ndash; if this job doesn&rsquo;t work out it is not your fault &ndash; there are thousands of other places you can teach.</font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">You may not want to make any moves this week, but Monday mornings can be a great chance to be someone new and introduce new strategies. Good luck. </font><font size="2">Smokey</font>
  20. Do you have any "supporters" in the school or are you totally isolated? If you do then you need to find out what is going on with the staff, they would be where I would start. If you don't have any supporters then what about talking to one of them? Is someone approachable?

    Secondly. You were an AST - you are one of the best teachers in the country. That did not vanish over night because you moved schools. Think back to your LEA AST meetings - did you feel out of your depth with people who knew about education? Of course not, because you know about it yourself.

    OK, now it is time to think about your behaviour.

    Do you live in an office and never come out to speak to staff, students or parents? (This is something teachers don't like about SLT members).

    Do you go into someone's class and immediately undermine them by telling off students etc?

    If a teacher is talking about a lesson in the staff room, do you butt in and tell them about your old school where you were an ASt and you would have taught the lesson this way and got an outstanding from ofsted? No one likes an SLT member who boasts, because everyone knows once you become SLT you can't teach any more, and you are out of touch.

    If someone came to the school and asked "what does coco do all day?" what would the teachers in your school say? Do they think that you are getting money for nothing? That you are not inputting to the school?

    The initiatives that you come up with - do they increase the workload on staff, or do they support them?

    How many times a term do you put biscuits in the staffroom for no other reason than you happened to be in asda last night?

    Lastly - your head is your line manager, but also they are not "ABOVE" you, you are as important to the school as they are. Next time you go into a meeting you say to them "what are YOU going to do to SUPPORT ME?" "What means are YOU going to put in place to help my professional development?" "How are you, AS THE HEAD, going to help bridge the gap, you say exists, between me and the staff?" In the same way you would have to negotiate a rift between two staff members the head has to do the same.

    Tomorrow: you are going to hold your head up, smile, say hello in a really obvious way to all staff as you see them, so that you can tell if they are ignoring you/being rude (and identify the problem ones). You are going to teach some excellent lessons so that you feel good about yourself, and you are not going to worry about the fact that you are a deputy head until half term - you are a TEACHER first and foremost.

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